Seniors and Cannabis – Lessons to Learn From Florida’s Market

At 150,000 registered medical marijuana patients, Florida’s 2018 sales are expected to reach $456 million, and some estimate close to $3B by 2020. Having the highest population of seniors per state at 20%, Florida is a prime market to gain insight on the 65 and older cannabis consumer, touted as “the fastest growing demographic of cannabis users”. 

Why are seniors one of the fastest growing groups of cannabis users?

Millions of people across this planet are suffering from age-related conditions and 92% or seniors have at least one chronic disease. Many pain associated ailments common in the elderly like arthritis, joint pain and even more complicated diseases like fibromyalgia, are generating a lot of attention in the cannabis world as more are finding success in managing symptoms. Providing much-needed relief without the addictive opioids and unwanted side-effects, yields a safer more pleasant treatment option.
A small 2016 study by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Tufts University found improvement in cognitive function, better sleep, less depression and a significant decrease in their use of medications such as opioids — all qualities that would be welcomed in nursing homes.
Cannabis has also been accredited for relief of PTSD, something the senior generation and veterans have experience with. 
Easily forgotten by the public once inside a long-term care facility, the elderly are especially vulnerable to loneliness and isolation. The social aspect of cannabis, along with mood improvement, can dramatically enhance the quality of life. Scientific American has stated that cannabis can potentially reverse the brain’s aging process. 
Last but not least, some seniors are more open to cannabis use and carry less of a prejudice than most having experimented with it in their youth during the 60’s and 70’s. “We can’t avoid factoring in that recreational drugs were part of how the boomer generation grew up, and when it comes to marijuana, quite a few have either never stopped partaking or have resumed doing so when no longer having to maintain a career or raise children,” says Lisa Cini. 

Targeting Seniors

Cynthia Rosenfeld of Laguna Woods smells different types of cannabis flowers during an outing for Laguna Woods Village residents to Bud and Bloom dispensary in Santa Ana, on Wednesday, August 2, 2017. (Photo by Nick Agro, Orange County Register/SCNG)

In Orange County, California, Bud and Bloom offers a free luxury coach transport for seniors living in a nearby gated community to their dispensary each month. First time guests are given a class on cannabis to help them understand how the plant can best help them.
Recently, House of Representatives member, Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), rode along. “I’ve always thought that seniors were going to be the biggest market for cannabis in the country,” he continued. “The fact is, cannabis can be of assistance to them. Many of them have aches and pains, trouble with sleeping, or with lost appetite. We should be willing to let them be free to use things to affect those maladies that they have with age.
“To me, it’s always been a freedom issue — people should be free to make choices about what do with their own life,” he said Tuesday. “And it’s also a suffering issue, because there is a needless suffering going on because of a prejudice in the law.”
Many businesses are offering senior specific education such as Farmacy in British Colubia, Canada who has created a full cannabis education program just for the 55 and over crowd
Robert Platshorn, famous smuggler, author, activist and founder of The Silver Tour, a traveling cannabis education movement, targets seniors and politicians to dispel cannabis myths and discuss benefits.  Platshorn says, In 2010 California failed to pass Prop 19 (full legalization). Exit polls made it clear that it was seniors that voted no. That’s when I decided that it was long past time for someone to reach out to seniors with the truth about cannabis and how it can benefit seniors especially.  Seniors have the greatest need and no one was speaking to them. Seniors are the most potent voting bloc in almost every state. The Silver Tour is the only organization that uses traditional mass media to educate seniors.” In addition to senior community visits, Platshorn produced Should Grandma Smoke Pot”, an educational commercial that aired hundreds of times on dozens of TV stations. 
With the US elderly population expected to double by 2050, more dispensaries are seeing the need to cater to this particular demographic.  Implementing marketing materials geared towards seniors or providing them with education on pain management for common ailments, is proving to be a sound investment. 

Learn how Seed can provide the 65 and older consumer with education and recommendations.